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gillian marchenko

Author and Speaker


What about us? A sibling to kids with disabilities shares her needs




Please help me welcome my beautiful (almost 15 year old) daughter Elaina as she writes about her experience with having siblings with disabilities. Great job, Elaina! I love you!


What about us? A sibling to kids with disabilities shares her needs

By Elaina Marchenko

Today, my sister Zoya and I watched Polly and Evie, our two little sisters with disabilities, while my mom went out for a haircut. It being summer we do watch our sisters more often, but we don’t really mind. Usually we pop in a movie, go outside, or just have fun playing Barbies together. But, today Evie threw a tantrum, stressing us out, pushing Polly’s attention more out of the way, and resulting in bickering. After mom came home, we talked about what happened and how everybody was. It warmed my heart when my mom asked me if I was okay! I wasn’t the one throwing a tantrum or having trouble communicating, yet my mom took a minute to check in with me. Little things like that help remind me that my parents do care about me and don’t forget about their other kids. In light of my experience today and others like it, I came up with a list of three things parents can do to make sure their kids without special needs feel just as important as their siblings with special needs. Keep reading to see what my three tips are…

1. Take Time to do Fun stuff

Now, this may be an ‘aha’ moment or just a good reminder but it is very important to take one on one time to do things with your child. By planning fun activities to do with your kid it makes them feel like you care about their happiness and that you aren’t forgetting that they are in tough boat too. I understand that parents to kids with special needs have a lot of obstacles and struggles, but sometimes the kids who are typical share some of those struggles. So plan a day of shopping, see a movie, or even just talk! Just make sure it is one on one and something you both want to do.

2. Ask us simple questions that might have slipped your mind otherwise

I know I appreciate it when my family is having a hard day and my parents ask how my day at school was. It shows you not only care about big struggles with your kids with special needs but you also care about your typical kid’s homework or what their are planning to do on the weekend. This is a simple way to show you care.

3. Ask us our opinions on things regarding your kid(s) with special needs

By asking us our opinions it makes us feel like we are in the loop and we get to know about what things have been taking up a lot of our parent’s energy or time. We better understand it instead of being outside of it all and feeling neglected. Even if we don’t really get a say, it’s nice to feel like our opinions are heard.

I hope this helped! Remember that siblings of kids with special needs are usually pretty flexible and understanding. Yes, we all have our moments, but we love our family members with disabilities as much as our parents do, just maybe in a different way.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helped!

Did you like this? Share it:
  1. bbryant2 says:

    What a great post! Elaina, you communicated so beautifully (and respectfully) your needs as a part of your family. I can see that the talent for writing has been passed down to you. I can’t wait to read your first book! 🙂

  2. Lorie Hatmaker says:

    What a thoughtful, informative and lovely post. I definitely think you might have a budding writer on your hands. And a darn good kid too.

    • Elaina says:

      Thanks! I have really started to enjoy writing lately so this is a treat for me to post on my moms website!

  3. Carrie says:

    She did a great job. Meredith has only one sibling but at times it is hard.

  4. Marin Hann says:

    Elaina! This post rocked! You did such a great job speaking beautifully and frankly. I can tell you really thought this out and your kindness was shown through in a way that was so amazing, but still allowed you to be clear about the importance of the topic.

    Thinking about you today and I hope your day is wonderful 🙂

  5. Sandy says:

    I love your heart, Eliana! What a great sister you are.

  6. What a great post! I really appreciate your perspective, Elaina and appreciate you sharing this! What a great sister you are! I hope you keep up with writing…you are gifted! <3

    • Elaina says:

      Oh thank you! I know I love getting new perspective on things in life so hopefully this helped some people get a perspective of a sibling to people with special needs

  7. Sarah says:

    Great job! This is a good reminder for me to spend more time with Mason one-no-one. I imagine having a new baby sibling can feel somewhat similar, especially when you’re 2.5.

  8. Allie Griffin says:

    Elaina! This is awesome. So good to hear the prospective of siblings, because to me it seems like the sibling voice isn’t always heard. 🙂

  9. Joni says:

    From the minute we met your family, it was evident that you and Zoya rock the “big sister” thing. You are lovely, through and through.

  10. Judy Horton says:

    I felt as if you and I were together discussing your day and what you need. It is an eyeopener for others in your situation. Many people would not bother to speak up
    and hold their feelings in. You need to continue writing as you are very talented.

  11. jo spargo says:

    Thank you for acknowledging that siblings of kids with special needs have needs also! I know that they do and I watch my daughter being a hero to my son with special needs and I want her to know it is OK to ask for what she needs also. I attended a small conference put on by sibs and I think they tried too hard to focus on that their lives were like everyone else’s. Their lives were different. Their lives had challenges others didn’t have, sacrifices others didn’t have, and blessings others didn’t have. All very real and all very shaping of who they became. I know my daughter will be affected in good and bad ways from helping with her brother…I pray more good than bad. I am so grateful for people like you who say it so others can know they are not alone.

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